FRIDAY SEPT. 15 UPDATE: Lake County officials report an estimated $28 million in property damage from Hurricane Irma, according to the Property Appraiser’s Office. For perspective, there was $1 million in damage in 2016 during Hurricane Matthew.
As of Friday afternoon, 13,950 customers were without power, the county reports.
Boaters are advised that lake water levels are high after Hurricane Irma. They should treat all lakes as a no-wake zone and proceed at a speed no greater than what is required to maintain steerageway and headway to avoid flooding nearby homes.
4PM SEPT. 13 UPDATE: Lake County government resumes services; storm debris removal update.
Government offices opening
o All county government operations under the Board of County Commissioners will open Thursday, with the exception of the Astor and Cagan Crossings libraries due to power issues.
o 45,957 customers remain without power.
- Lake County garbage disposal sites
o Central Landfill Facility – 7am-7pm, seven days per week, until further notice.
o All other convenience centers will be open 8am-5pm Monday through Saturday until further notice.
- Storm-related vegetative debris
o The county is mobilizing resources to pick up storm-related debris at no charge to residents.
o Residents may bring storm-related vegetative debris to the Central Landfill Facility or convenience centers for disposal, free of charge.
o Alternately, storm debris can be left at the curb for pickup by a Solid Waste contractor over the next few weeks, free of charge.
o Be aware that outside contractors who approach residents seeking payment for storm debris removal are not affiliated with Lake County.
o If anyone is asked by their residential hauler for additional payment to remove debris, DO NOT PAY and immediately call 352.253.9999 to report this potentially fraudulent activity.
- Regular yard waste
o Yard waste that is considered to be vegetative material resulting from landscaping maintenance, including shrub and tree trimmings, grass clippings, leaves, palm fronds, and branches will be collected by residential haulers.
o Limbs and branches must be no longer than four feet in length with limbs no greater than six inches in diameter.
o Leaves may be bagged or placed into a customer-provided container, not a county-provided cart. Minimal vegetative storm debris can be disposed of as yard waste if it meets these requirements. All yard waste material must be placed within three feet of the curb or edge of the road no later than 6am on the designated pick-up day.
o Regular yard waste cannot exceed 50 pounds.
- Non-storm-related bulk pickup
o Bulk pickup of appliances or other non-vegetative materials, such as furniture and fencing, will be collected by your residential hauler. Residents must call the hauler to report a pickup. The hauler has three days to pick up the items.
For any questions regarding county government operations or debris removal, call the Citizens Information Line at 352.253.9999. For information about power outages, call your power company directly.
SEPT. 13 A.M. REPORT: As county officials and emergency crews continue to assess the fallout from Hurricane Irma, initial estimates put the property damage at $8.5 million.
The Emergency Operations Center remains at Level 1 – Full Activation as debris cleanup and power restoration to more than 100,000 county residents continue, a news release states. County Commission Vice Chairwoman Leslie Campione on Tuesday extended the local state of emergency for seven days.
All offices of the Board of County Commissioners, including the Lake County Animal Shelter, parks, and branch libraries remained closed Wednesday due to power issues, with the exception of Solid Waste facilities and Public Safety.
The Citizens Information Line at 352.253.9999 will stay open 24 hours a day until further notice.
Irma produced sustained winds near hurricane force with gusts of 70 to 90 mph across the entire region overnight Sunday, and gusts of 100 to 110 mph in the eyewall, the county reported.
Lake County initially opened 13 emergency shelters on Saturday, and once The Villages Elementary reached capacity, the county opened Mount Dora High School as well. At one point over the weekend, 4,617 people and 527 pets were housed at 14 Lake County shelters. The Villages opened two additional shelters at The Villages Charter High School gym and Paradise Recreation Center to assist residents who live in manufactured homes.
The estimated power outages reached a high point Monday of more than 123,000, the county reported. With power still out in many areas, drivers are advised to use caution on roads and treat non-working traffic lights as a four-way stop. Do not drive over downed power lines or through floodwaters. Fuel supplies remain low, so motorists can check gasbuddy.com for supply and locations.
Irma’s effects still are being felt directly. The National Weather Service Tuesday issued a flood warning for the St. Johns River near Astor, as floodwaters reach unprecedented levels, a release states. The river is forecast to recede midweek before starting a slow rise into the weekend.
Residents in Astor and the Lake George area are under a voluntary evacuation order. A host shelter has been established for Astor-area residents only. A curfew is in effect from 9pm-7:30am for everyone except first-responders and local Astor residents. Sandbag distribution will be available 24/7 at Fire Station 10, 23023 State Road 40.
Those choosing not to evacuate may be faced with impassable roads and flooding, and may not be reached by first responders in the event of an emergency. Residents should move to higher ground or stay on high ground, and avoid walking or driving through floodwaters. Just six inches of moving water can knock people down, and two feet of water can sweep vehicles away.
Flooding was reported Tuesday at docks and yards at condominiums on Juno Trail, and docks at the Astor Bridge Marina. Roads were flooded in South Moon Fish Camp, and water was starting to move over the sea wall at Blair’s Jungle Den, the release states.
A no-wake zone is being enforced on the St. Johns River until further notice. An idle-speed, no-wake zone means a vessel may not travel faster than required to maintain steerageway and headway.
Meanwhile, some county services have resumed. The Lake County Solid Waste Central Landfill Facility will be open Wednesday for extended hours 7am-7 p.m., and all Solid Waste Residential Convenience Centers will be open from 8am-5pm Wednesday. Future hours of operation will be announced.
Collections for unincorporated residents only (those not living in municipalities) this week will be on a holiday schedule, meaning normal collections will shift by one day. For example, Monday collections will be picked up on Tuesday; Tuesday collections will be picked up on Wednesday, and so on.
Residents may bring major storm debris to the Central Landfill Facility or convenience centers for disposal, free of charge. Residential landfill and convenience center drop-off fees are waived through Oct. 2. Alternately, storm debris can be left at the curb for pickup by a Solid Waste contractor over the next few weeks. Bulk pickup of “white goods,” which are appliances or other non-vegetative materials such as furniture and fencing, will be collected over the next few weeks by a contractor.
For more information, visit lakecountyfl.gov/departments/public_works/solid_waste/ or call Solid Waste at 352.343.3776.
LakeXpress, Lake County’s fixed bus route, resumed full operations Tuesday, and Lake County Connection, the county’s paratransit service, resumed ADA and life-sustaining trips only. LakeXpress public transit fares are suspended until Sept. 19.
In addition, all pet adoption and reclaim fees, and library charges are waived through Sept. 18.
Lake County Fire Rescue deployed Tanker 111 as part of a multi-agency tanker strike force, which will be utilized to assist the Cape Canaveral Fire Department with water supply lost during Hurricane Irma, the county reported. Lt. Paul Rogers and firefighter Jason Miller are deployed on Tanker 111 on this assignment for up to 10 days. The task force consists of tankers from Lake, Orange, Seminole, and Osceola counties.
Lake County Economic Growth established a business hotline at 352.253.9998 that will be staffed from 8am-5pm daily at the Emergency Operations Center, according to a news release. Staff will be able to assist businesses with the Business Disaster Assistance programs from the Florida Small Business Development Center at the University of Central Florida. These programs include the Florida Small Business Loan Program, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Business Physical Disaster Loans, and SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program.
The Small Business Development Center also will staff offices from 8am-5pm beginning Wednesday at Century Plaza, 17521 U.S. Highway 441, Suite 6, Mount Dora, and Hunt Industrial Park, 15430 County Road 565A, Suite A, Groveland.
In The Villages, administrative and customer service offices reopened Wednesday, as did recreation centers that have power, according to a district announcement. The following centers do not have power and will remain closed: Paradise, Hilltop, Moyer, and Chula Vista. As power is restored, these facilities will reopen.
Outdoor court facilities also began reopening Wednesday. Swimming pools will reopen as they pass health and safety inspections. This process is expected to take several days. Some recreational facilities, including Knudson Softball Field and several parks, will be closed indefinitely. Call the Recreation Department at 352.674.1800 for more information.
Entertainment at Lake Sumter Landing Town Square and Brownwood Paddock Square will resume Wednesday, though entertainment still is cancelled at Spanish Springs Town Square. See thevillagesentertainment.com.
For more information and photos on Hurricane Irma, go to facebook.com/lakecountyflemergencymanagement/ and facebook.com/pg/lakecountyflemergencymanagement/photos/.
Photo credits: Lake County Government